Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fun AND Educational...Where Do I Sign Up?

If you haven't noticed, my family and I love games. We also love to learn so it seems natural to combine learning and games.  Here is the thing though:  kids KNOW the difference between an educational game and a just for fun game.  I can buy a game made to teach something like multiplication facts or sight words.  Guess what--my kids might not want to play it because it is school work not fun.  I knew there had to be a better way so I started to use the games my kids love to practice academic skills.  And it works!  They love playing them and I love that they are learning! I'm not sure why some kids don't like educational games...but I'm glad I have figured out the trick!

Here is what you do to turn a fun game into an educational game:

  1. Decide what skill you want to practice with your child.  It could be multiplication facts, sight words, vocabulary words, history facts, state capitals, geography, elements of the periodic table, etc.  It can be anything your child needs to practice.
  2. Create flash cards of the information your child needs to learn.  You could also purchase flash cards from a store if available.  I've used multiplication cards and alphabet cards.  I've also just made my own.  For example, if your child is learning states and their capitals, make flashcards that have a  state on one side and the capital city on the other. 
  3. Choose a game (or games) your child loves.
  4. Play the game with your child with this twist.  Before each turn, have your child answer a question on the flashcard.  If your child misses a question, tell him  the right answer.  Keep using that question until he answers it correctly and then move on to another.  If you want to be tough, your child loses a turn if the question can't be answered.  I would only do this once your child is pretty comfortable with the information.  Continue to play the game as usual, answering a question before each turn.  If you really want to impress your kids, make sure you answer questions too! (And yes, you lose a turn when you get it wrong.)

As you can see, it is so easy to turn any fun game into an educational experience.

In the past, I've reviewed the game Bugs in the Kitchen.  Click her to learn more about that game. It is a fun fast paced game all three of my kids enjoy.  I've used their love of this game to my advantage as their teacher.  One way I've used this is to review sight words.  I made flash cards of sight words.  My child had to read the sight word before she  can take her turn.  I love this game with the educational component because speed is important.  Many  kids love the added challenge of being fast.

You can also use games like Candyland, Connect 4, Memory, Go Fish, Uno, Skipbo, Slapjack and War.  Really you can use any game that is simple and short.  I wouldn't use a game like Mononopoly because it would just take too long with the added component. The best part of this is that you don't have to go out and buy a game for every skill your child needs to practice.  (Hooray for another budget friendly way to help your kids learn!)You can use any game to practice what your child needs.

Give this a try at home and feel free to share how you turned your child's favorite game into an educational game!

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